Come let us reason together with the Lord.
a thought to consider:
Christianity Today: “Tell us about Faithfully Magazine’s motto which paraphrases Micah 6:8: “Do Good. Obey God. Stay Woke.”
Nicola Menzie: “‘Do Good’ is what Christians are called to do. We get our definition of what is good by looking at what pleases God. ‘Obey God’ you could call pursuing righteousness or holiness. ‘Stay Woke’ is just equipping ourselves to be aware of what’s going on around us and knowing how to engage when we need to engage.”
Christianity Today Interview with the founder of Faithfully Magazine, Nicola Menzie, “Stay Woke: A Q&A with Faithfully Magazine: The Story Behind a New, Multiethnic Journalistic Enterprise”
something Jesus said:
Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing. Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing. For this nation’s heart has grown hard. They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; they screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look. Otherwise they would see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn to Me and I would heal them.
Matthew 13:14-15 (MSG & AMP)
Using the boat as a pulpit, Jesus addressed His congregation, telling stories: “What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, and was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good soil, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.
“Are you listening to this? Really listening?
“Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of The Kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface and the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.
“The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.
“The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears The Kingdom News, but the weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.
“The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes The News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”
Matthew 13: 1-9; 18-23
This week, we marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. This year, I will be turning 49 years old. I am astonished that although I’ve been living a racial history as a black woman for all 49 years of my life, I’ve only been recently aware of—or woke to the reality of—my experience in regards to our nation’s racial history.
If I were to use the Parable of the Sower to chart the varying degrees of my being "woke", I would have to admit that at different points of my life, I have been each one of the seeds. The seeds of the truth about race and our nation’s history had fallen on the road, on the gravel, amongst the weeds, until one day it landed on some good soil. The moment the seed hit was only two years ago.
My husband and I were attending a back-to-school event at my daughter’s predominately white, conservative, evangelical Christian school. We were listening to each department head talk about the goals and curriculum of their department. When the head of the history department began to describe the ways that the history department had been working to develop students into proficient public speakers, she announced that by the time our students hit the 11th grade they would be assigned to debate for and against slavery in a mock trial. She explained that students would take on both sides—mock debating pro-slavery and then debating against slavery.
I admit I had at times been in a bit of a haze paying attention that evening, and at other times allowing my attention to drift away prior to hearing this news that shocked me wide awake. Why would they even "mock" debate pro-slavery? How was my daughter, the only black girl in her class, expected to do this kind of assignment? I knew the answer to my second thought was that there was no way that I could allow my daughter to debate pro-slavery, even mockingly.
My husband and I discussed at length: What do we do? Did we hear her correctly? Our first step was to confirm this news. I emailed the head of the department who confirmed what we heard and extended an invitation to have a face-to-face conversations, which we have accepted and have been in series of conversations about racial identity on our school’s campus ever since.
But isn’t it strange that I had lived almost 50 years in my black skin and had never noticed things like bias, privilege, systematic racism, and division until I experienced the pain of all three? I was in such a deep sleep that I didn’t know that I could be black and still be a perpetuator of these things. I hadn’t noticed that my being the only black mother at my child’s Christian school, or the only black woman in my bible study group, or the only black person in any given community of believers and never daring to offer my particular experience, was a problem given that Christ said, “May they all be one as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us, so that the world might believe that You sent me.” I had lived for years reserving by blackness for myself lest I stir my blackness into my faith and find it too bitter a cup to drink. My heart was hard and I didn’t want to see or hear or understand my black experience in unity with their white experience. But, once I turned my heart to Jesus, I began to listen to Him—really listen—and He began to heal me of bias, privilege, the effects of systematic racism and division. The seed had finally landed on vibrant, good, "woke" soil. I’m seeing a harvest beyond my wildest dreams.
*note: my daughter’s school no longer holds a mock slavery debate and has begun a journey towards understanding their mission to produce defenders of the Good News and how that relates to multicultural, racial, and ethnic identity. Though not yet ‘woke’, the school is awakening.
1. How ‘woke’ are you when comparing your acceptance of our nation’s racial history to The Parable of the Sower? Are you a seed tossed on the road, gravel, weeds or good earth? If you are a seed tossed on good earth, what harvest do you see God producing in your life?
2. What are your thoughts about Faithfully Magazine’s motto: “Do Good. Obey God. Stay Woke”?
3. It’s been 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who not only worked to bring civil rights and justice throughout the world, but also worked to bring the Good News—that we are called to be One in Christ, forgiven, saved and whole. What does this mean to you?
Father, the life of Jesus revealed Your character in detail. Without a shadow of a doubt, we believe the Good News of Christ. Guard us as we pursue holiness, justice, and unity in this life. Through the work of the Savior may the Spirit continue to work through us as we work towards the goal to be One Heart and Mind in You, Lord, because our Unity gives the world evidence of Your Love, Splendor and Glory. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
May your eyes be opened to see, your ears opened to hear, and your heart opened to understanding and receiving the seed of the Good News for all people on good soil.